Shots Fired travels a long and warped road.

Shot Blockers 

Shots Fired travels a long and warped road.

arped Tour was disgusting," says Shots Fired drummer Billy Johnson. It's a provocative statement, at least until it becomes clear that Johnson uses "disgusting" as a synonym for huge. For example, he later says "My Chemical Romance is disgusting now, which is great." If anything, the Kansas City trio's several-weeks-long summer Warped experience was aseptic, with the band spending most of its time watching DVDs (Arrested Development, Anchorman) inside a van that Johnson swears is immaculate.

The vehicle's cleanliness suggests it wasn't the site of the previous evening's carousing after a gig at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. Johnson filters every word through a groggy yawn that seems to be staving off dry heaves. He woke up a few minutes before taking this cell-phone call (it's noon California time), and the tidymobile is on its way to San Diego, which he colorfully calls "the world's vagina."

The spoken-for Johnson shuns groupies, making this the only reference to orifices in his tour report. (The Hurricane homecoming gig coincidentally coincides with his girlfriend's birthday.) However, he did meet Billy Idol ("we're bros now"). Other than that, the largest-scale festival in this self-described band-whore's decade-plus career was "basically boring."

"You get sick of seeing the same bands all the time," he says. "When a new band comes onboard, everyone crowds around just to watch something different."

For crowds, Shots Fired certainly offered a contrast. On a bill overrun with hook-happy whiners, its sets included massive drumrolls, urgent guitars and surging melodies. The kids didn't seem to mind, as Shots Fired drew decently, moved merch and even inspired some pit action, though not nearly as much as Johnson witnessed during one Philly stop.

"There was this wall-of-death stampede, the craziest thing I've ever seen," Johnson recalls through his hangover haze. "A dude broke his arm and severed an artery. It was like a fuckin' blood water gun."

Shots Fired's members were seeing red in the mirror after their first date on Warped, too, the result of their decision not to slather themselves in sunscreen. "It was bad, but you have to get that out of the way or you're screwed," Johnson says. (My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way must use triple-digit SPF to preserve his vampiric complexion.)

With its static lineup and low-key backstage area, Warped offered few surprises.

"I was pretty shocked at how quickly those portable toilets turned into shit saunas," Johnson offers. "And when people would kick up dust in the parking-lot pits, we'd have the worst brown boogers."

Now that's disgusting.

Saturday, September 3, at the Hurricane.

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